My friend Eric has been asking me about my Specialized Stumjumper hardtail race bike for some time. I’m thinking there’s two reasons. First is that i’ve been going really well on it, and second because Eric has an old Cannondale Super V that he’s thinking of updating. So anyways, I lent my friend my bike to ride the 40km rando at Pageas. I rode my Spesh Epic.
On the morning of the event, we’ve signed on, and we’re fitting Eric’s pedals…..”Se exactement la meme utilise pour le Frederick Mistral et le St Junien to St Junien“, I tell him emphasizing it’s pedigree. I know I don’t really need to ‘cos after riding his full susser my Spesh is gonna feel very fast, and he’s gonna love it.
We roll away from the start in the early morning sun. It’s a ‘Depart libre’, so there’s lots of riders already started. Carla’s riding too, and we’re chatting. After a few minutes I notice that Eric has dissappeared. “Il est parti”, Jean FranÃ§ois (another Rochechouart club rider) tells me. I’m thinking that he’s probably having a blast along the first few kilometers to test my bike. I up the pace a bit ‘cos I want to see how he’s getting on.
Now I’m riding briskly, but even when I can see minutes up ahead there’s no sign of Eric. At the first ravitalment there’s no one, I ride on, now I’m riding quite hard. With about an hour done I catch a group of four, I know the one from the Ambazac Sprinter Club, I ask him if he’s seen Eric. He tells me that Eric passed some time ago like a bullet shot from a gun! I give chase.
Usually on the randos, if there’s deep water or mud I’ll try and go around it, but not now, I’m ‘full on’ giving it all i’ve got, and still no sign of Eric. Got to make the most of what the Epic can do, and on the rocky descents I continue to pedal like mad. Out of the saddle at the top of each climb clanging up the gears and pushing on, this is hard, and I still can’t catch him.
At the second ravitalment there he is, relaxing in the sun with a cup of juice and some cake! He tells me how much he’s been enjoying riding my bike, and how he’s been hammering along with one of the young lads from the promoting club. We set off along the tarmac together. As soon as we hit the dirt the young Taufflard takes off and Eric goes with him. I try to respond, but my legs are heavy, and I’m very tired. I work hard to stay in contact, I’m just about hanging on, and then I’m gone.
Judging by the nature of the terrain, we must be on for some downhill action towards the end of the circuit. I’m still chasing as hard as I can, and I haven’t given up all hope. A sign up ahead warns “Descente Dangereuse!”, there’s riders slowing down to take a look before they commit. I go for the ‘ride it before it frightens you’ option and before I know it I’m down. Wasn’t that bad actually 😉
Now we’re into some rocky whoopy rooty stuff, the Epic comes alive I’m motoring down the last few kms, and there’s Eric. I just can’t stop myself and I sprint after him. I’ve just got to show him my front wheel before the finish. We’re racing down towards the final road crossing, the marshal is holding up a red ‘stop’ paddle, we come to a halt side by side, we laugh. We’ve ridden hard, and we both know it.